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May 23, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:48pm


By CBR Staff Writer

The ARPAnet, and thus the internet, has often been said to have been originally designed as a military communications system capable of surviving a nuclear assault. However, Leonard Kleinrock, a Professor at UCLA, the University of California at Los Angeles, has asserted that this widely-held belief is entirely false. Calling the military angle a myth, Kleinrock explains in a personal history on his web site, which can be found at ( that the real motivation for the ARPAnet was simple economy: ARPA had been supporting a number of computer scientists around the country and, as new researchers were brought in, they naturally asked ARPA to provide a computer on which they could do their research. However, ARPA reasoned that this community of scientists would be able to share a smaller number of computers if these computers were connected together by means of a data network. Kleinrock should know, he was there. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962 for his work on the virgin topic of data networks, within which he propounded the basis of packet-switching – the data transfer mechanism that lies at the heart of the Internet’s TCP/IP protocol. In September 1969 he supervised the installation of the first ARPAnet node at UCLA. A month later he oversaw the first host-to-host transmission of data over the Net, which took place between machines at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute (the letters ‘l’ and ‘o’ of ‘login’ were successfully transferred before the system crashed). In an interview screened by the British Broadcasting Corp on May 17th, as part of its Computers Don’t Bite season, Kleinrock added that he has spent the best part of the past 30 years trying to scotch the inaccurate rumors about the Net’s genesis.

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